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Your biggest questions (and misconceptions) about plastic surgery answered!

Today Dr.Linkov tackles the most asked questions about plastic surgery on the web. 

Is plastic surgery safe? Will I regret having plastic surgery? Do plastic surgeons only care about their bottom line? Do people who seek out plastic surgery have mental health issues?

Those are just a sampling of the things people most ask about plastic surgery on the internet. And – while this double board-certified plastic surgeon firmly believes there is no such thing as a bad question – questions do help highlight misconceptions and misinformation. So, let’s spend some time clearing them up!

Think plastic surgery is only for the uber wealthy? Think again. Many people from all walks of life pursue plastic surgery looking for a more refreshed, ‘better’ version of themselves. 

One of the biggest misconceptions I come across is that only the rich get plastic surgery (and that there’s a certain ‘high-maintenance, dramatic’ personality type that most often pursues it). That’s just not true. 

Most people who explore plastic surgery are looking to see a more youthful, better version of themselves when they look in the mirror. They’re very grounded (and reasonable) in their expectations and often very grateful postoperatively. 

Along those lines, there also seems to be a misconception that plastic surgeons live a glamorous lifestyle. Trust me on this one, that is not the case. I’m at the office with my team until the end of the day helping clean up and finish. Add a young family, the pervasiveness of tiny New York apartments, and ‘glamour’ is not the adjective I’d use to describe my career. 

No, plastic surgeons do not live like this (well maybe a few do). If a glamorous lifestyle is what you’re hoping for pursuing a career in plastic surgery, you might want to rethink med school before the tuition kicks in. 

Next up, I see a lot of questions asking how permanent plastic surgery is. Generally, plastic surgery is pretty darn permanent. When you reposition tissue, remove skin, and/or position an implant, it’s not an easily reversible process. So yeah. Permanent. 

However, your body is dynamic. The result you get will change over time as you continue to age. Consider a rhinoplasty. Someone might love the results, but over the next 3-10 years, their nose will likely change. They might even decide on revision surgery years later. Same thing goes for a facelift.

So, perhaps ‘semi-permanent’ is a better descriptor? 


How safe is plastic surgery? I wish there was a simple answer to this one, but it’s just not so. How safe a plastic surgery is can depend on the patient, surgeon, and the surgery being performed. Small surgeries tend to be safer. A lip lift, for example, encompasses a small area, can be performed under local anesthetic, and has a low chance of serious complications. It’s a safer procedure compared to a facelift, which usually requires general anesthesia (always riskier than local) and involves more tissue repositioning, comes with the risk of hematoma (blood pooling – it can be life threatening) and other complications such as nerve damage. The most dangerous plastic surgery of all? The Brazilian butt lift (BBL), which carries a 1 in 3000 chance of death due to the potential of a fat embolism (where fat is accidentally injected into one of the many vessels located in this region). That’s astronomical for a cosmetic procedure and should give anyone considering a BBL a healthy pause.

Is plastic surgery safe? It depends – on the procedure, the surgeon, the facility, and even the patient. There’s no easy answer. 

And that’s not taking into consideration the facility (accreditation, safety protocols, etc), the surgeon (how many procedures and what type do they perform everyday?), and whether the patient has underlying conditions (or expectations) that put them at higher risk, such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm, and allergies, or a request for drastic changes.

In that case, if someone wants to avoid the risks of plastic surgery altogether, how do they go about combating the aging process without it? Again, there’s no simple answer here. Things that are outside our control, such as genetics, play an overwhelming role in dictating how we’ll age. The trifecta of diet, exercise, and sleep have a surprising impact, improving just about every aspect of the aging process, and it’s never too late to start. Having a positive life outlook is getting more attention for our overall well being as we age, and of course skincare plays an important role as well. Sunscreen, injectables, and other treatments – when used the right way – can have a positive effect on how people feel about their own aging journey, but there’s no one solution.  

Next on the list? People want to know whether they’ll look unnatural if they get plastic surgery. Well performed plastic surgery is designed to maintain naturality – I like to say it whispers – meaning chances are you can’t spot it on the street. In many instances, plastic surgery can be the more natural looking option compared to filler overuse, especially where the lips are concerned on a patient with a long philtrum and little to no upper tooth show.

Whether you’ll see natural looking results can also depend on what kind of candidate you are and if you’re pursuing the right procedure. The most natural results come from working with a patient’s natural features, and problems tend to arise from drastically trying to change them. 

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Do people regret plastic surgery? That really depends on expectations. As a surgeon, I really need to understand a patient’s wishes and make certain they understand what’s physiologically possible. If a patient’s wishes do not align with what a surgeon can realistically do, then proceeding is likely a bad idea. For older patients, it’s also really important to make sure your general health is ok before proceeding, because having a health complication (especially if it impedes healing) will definitely harbor feelings of regret.

 

Having plastic surgery too young can also lead to buyer’s remorse. As people mature, they tend to gain an appreciation for their appearance and can end up regretting having changed a unique feature that bothered them in their youth. 

Also, in the realm of expectations, patients need to understand timelines and when they can expect to see their final results. For a facelift or rhinoplasty, that can take up to a year – there’s a lot of swelling and ‘waiting to see’. Patients require patience. 

 

How do you know if you’re a good candidate? Research is critical. Searching reputable websites, visiting forums, talking to patients, and consulting with board certified plastic surgeons (preferably more than one) all help you make a more informed decision. Some surgeons can be keen so take heed when a surgeon says you are not a candidate. It could be they don’t regularly perform that procedure, but it could also be that you don’t have the right anatomy. I’ve discussed before in videos what features make for a good lip lift candidate

Internalize the feedback and seek out multiple opinions, but also don’t ‘consult jump’ around until someone says yes. Eventually someone will say yes, and chances are it won’t be in your best interest. 

 Finding the right surgeon sets you up for success. Personality, expertise, budget, and whether you’re a candidate all factor in. 

Finally, how do you choose a good plastic surgeon? Look for expertise – someone who performs the surgery often with great results – as that will set you up for your greatest chance at success. Location is a factor as well. Travelling for plastic surgery can make things significantly more or less expensive. There are advantages and disadvantages to both; staying close to home means complications and follow ups are more easily managed while travelling can expand the experts available to you and – in some cases – be more cost effective. Personality is important to consider as well. Some patients do well with a very boisterous surgeon who tells you what you need. Others may find that personality intimidating and prefer a quitter, guiding personality. 

Ask to see the before and after photos, and if something doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. No one needs cosmetic plastic surgery, and you can afford to wait. 

For even more answers to questions people ask about plastic surgery, visit our YouTube Channel

 

If you’re considering plastic surgery and looking for the right surgeon, visit our Star of Confidence page, where we list recommended experts by their speciality so you can feel confident exploring your plastic surgery options.

 

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Written by
Kristi Charish
Edited by
Dr. Gary Linkov
The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.

 

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